Ah, the mythical bisexual. Often not believed to be real, often thought of as a phase — “bicurious”, often forgotten in the long fight for equality.
Being bisexual is an interesting life experience. First, you just think you’re straight because you do like the opposite sex… but you’ve always been attracted and curious by the same sex. Then, you think: “Maybe I am gay!” and go on attempted dates with the same sex. Then, you meet someone of the opposite sex who convinces you that you’re not gay. All the while your gay friends call you the “straight friend” or the “fag hag” and your straight friends tell you, “Maybe, you’re not into women but you just admire them.”
All the while gay acceptance and equality has gained traction in the media. Glee comes out, Lady Gaga happens. Celebrities date the same sex, some come out as gay, some come out as bi, but mostly we just remember the gay ones or call the bi ones straight.
Bi-erasure is a real thing. Bisexuals aren’t often portrayed in the media as bi, usually you’re gay or straight, or doing it for attention. Headlines concerning bisexual celebrities often go the “It’s a Phase” route. And often, once you have a partner of the opposite sex, you aren’t considered bisexual or queer anymore. You’re straight, or you’re “taking sides”.
I had always struggled with my sexual identity mainly because I was always attracted to women (who wouldn’t be, we’re fucking gorgeous!) but I also loved the D. Couple this confusion with the fact that most people don’t think being bi is a real thing, proved very confusing.
I have always been active in the queer community but always as the “straight girl”. Why did this always bother me? Often, I would try to talk about my sexuality with my male gay friends and a lot of them wouldn’t think it was possible to be bi. When I went on my first online date with a female I was laughed at.
But I, too, am guilty of bi-erasure, disregarding my friend when he said he liked women, as well as men (“Who is he kidding? He just likes men!”). I also used to not believe in the myth of being into more than one gender.
“…being bisexual can cause feelings of isolation for some young men and women, because they feel a lot of pressure to be either straight or gay. Some people find bisexuality hard to understand, but remember: there’s nothing “wrong” about feeling or being bisexual.” — Being Bisexual
And then, I moved to Toronto and found a great group of queer friends and a community that allowed me to be curious, taught me a lot about sexual identity and showed me that, yes, labels don’t matter but awareness does.
I learned about polyamorous relationships; I learned what it means to be pansexual, asexual, queer, transgender; I learned what consent really constitutes and, I learned about the never ending fight for understanding between already marginalized groups.
One of the biggest perpetrators of bi-erasure is film and television (also perpetrators of sexism/gratuitous violence/racism etc. but more on that in later posts). How many television shows or movies have you seen where the character is never allowed to identify as “bi”. They are paired off with various characters and then have to “choose a side”. Fandoms are guilty of bi-erasure as well, where the character is never allowed to be “bisexual”. The only TV show I have seen with a great portrayal of what it is truly like to be bisexual is Showcase’s “Lost Girl”. (Please, comment if you have any other good ones!!)
Often bi-erasure occurs in the news or in activist activities, we are less heard from and not as “real” a group as the rest of the LGBTIQ* community. Why, most of the bi-erasure remarks I’ve heard are from the lesbian and gay communities. We are not taken seriously!
I do not want this to be taken as an incendiary post, to promote fighting within the queer community. This is a call for awareness and for coming together, for uniting in our queerness and accepting each other for who we are. Lesbian, bi, gay, non-binary, pansexual. This is a call for inclusion on the awesome community that is the LGBTIQ*.
It doesn’t matter if I am labelled gay/queer/straight/bi, what matters is the awareness that, yes, people can be fluid in their sexual identity and that we are real. Because even though labels are bad, sometimes we have to accept them before we can break free of them.
So, it’s time to start examining your attitudes to people who identify as bisexual or pansexual, and start accepting that everyone is here to love who they want. Consensually, of course.
Being Bisexual — http://us.reachout.com/facts/factsheet/being-bisexual
The Year in Bisexual Invisibility — http://www.advocate.com/year-review/2014/12/30/year-bisexual-invisibility
Op-Ed: Finding My Bisexual Community and Coming Out Again and Again — http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/10/11/op-ed-bisexuality-means-coming-out-all-over-again-find-community
All bi-myself: bi-erasure in the media — http://www.about-face.org/all-bi-myself-bi-erasure-in-the-media/